Wetland restoration relies on farmer participation

MHHC is seeking more landowners interested in wetland restoration on their property, 
something that can benefit them and those downstream

A Deloraine-area wetland restoration project is showing how farmers can work with habitat organizations to alleviate downstream flooding, while retaining water for their own use.

The Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation project, on properties owned by Gord Weidenhamer and Glenn Scott, is restoring a 32-acre wetland that was drained years ago by previous owners. Weidenhamer said drainage was just how things were done back then, but the reality is it wasn’t a huge benefit for this parcel of land.

“It didn’t provide any benefit as far as the grazing goes, the wetlands were still there, especially during high-water years,” said Weidenhamer.

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The wetland was already under an existing MHHC conservation agreement, but Weidenhamer recently added a 10-year wetland restoration agreement with the group. He said the long-term nature of the agreement reflects the reality that restoring wetlands is a long-term project.

“Nature took a lifetime to create it and to try to get it back takes a lot of steps and a lot of work,” he said. “These conservation projects help to restore the natural lands and I think people should take advantage of them and really look at the big picture.”

Now MHHC is looking for more farmers interested in finding a solution to the challenge of managing water flow.

With flooding across the province in recent years, there is a lot of discussion at provincial, municipal and federal levels on how to manage the flow of water to minimize the destruction of land and infrastructure during high-water events. MHHC says landowners will play a very important role in the plan, and they’re actively looking for new participants for the “significant wetland restoration project” they’re in the midst of.

Research and land surveys are always completed in co-operation with the landowners to determine what the water level should be at and to provide direction on the best means of restoring the natural landscape.

Since Weidenhamer’s land is in the headwaters, he’s hoping the reclamation of this wetland will help to alleviate some problems downstream.

“If every municipality could look at these programs and utilize them, I think there would be real benefits to storing some water and slowing down water that’s heading downstream,” said Weidenhamer.

The Deloraine-area project is just one example of the many projects, big and small, that have been funded through MHHC with support from Environment and Climate Change Canada and its Lake Winnipeg Basin Stewardship Fund, MHHC said.

Farmers interested in participating in the wetland restoration project should contact Tom Moran (204-305-0276) or Scott Beaton (204-471-9663).

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